Densho Digital Archive
Twin Cities JACL Collection
Title: Sally Sudo Interview
Narrator: Sally Sudo
Interviewer: Steve Ozone
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date: October 12, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-ssally-01-0001

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SO: We're with Sally Sudo, the interviewee, and I'm Steve Ozone and Bill Kubota is the videographer. October 12, 2009. Okay, Sally, where and when were you born?

SS: I was born in December of 1935 in Seattle, Washington. And I was actually born Shigeyo Ohno, but I can never remember ever having used that name "Shigeyo." And I was trying to remember how I got to be called Sally. And I asked my older brothers and sisters and they really didn't know, so I have a feeling that it was probably my kindergarten teacher that gave me that name. All I know is that the name Shigeo... My mother had a favorite actress in Japan and her name was Shigeko, but that actress died, so she changed the ending to Shigeyo, Y-O. And I never liked that name because it I always thought it sounded like a man's name. You know, there are men in Japan called Shigeo, and to me it was too close to being a man's name. So I was never fond of that name anyway, but all my life I've been called Sally.

SO: Because ordinarily, yeah, it should be something with "-ko".

SS: Yes, "-Ko" right.

SO: What was your mother's name?

SS: My mother's name was Saki, her maiden name was Hazemoto, and she was the younger of two girls in their family. There were eleven years between her older sister and herself.

SO: Where was she from?

SS: She's from Shikoku, Ehime-ken, and the name of the town is Yawatahama and it's a town on the west coast of the island of Shikoku. Not too far from the capital city of Matsuyama. Both my parents, my mom and dad, are both from that same town.

SO: What was your father's name?

SS: My father was Yosaji Ohno. And he was born in 1881 and came to the States at the age of eighteen in 1899. He came with a couple of his cousins and he was actually the oldest boy in his family, so it's rather unusual that he was allowed to leave his family and emigrate like he did, but my understanding is that they really needed some kind of outside income so that they could preserve their family farm. Their family was into growing mikans, you know, the mandarin oranges, and they had mikan groves in Yawatahama, and there they grow the mikans on the side of mountains, so it's all terraced land. And I, in fact, went to visit there about ten years ago and learned from my cousin that it was my father's -- I think it was a great uncle -- was one of the early pioneers that brought the actual mikan seeds from China to Japan and started, helped start that industry. And if you know anything about mikans, they say that the best tasting eating mikans come from that region of Shikoku -- Ehime-ken, right.


SO: And then what did he do when he came over here?

SS: When he first came here he worked as a houseboy for a Caucasian family to learn the language, and then being a houseboy he learned how to cook. So he spent most of his life in Seattle as a cook. At one time he and his cousin owned a... I suppose it would be like a diner, not really a restaurant but kind of a small eating place where most of the people who wanted Japanese food would go and eat.

SO: Did he meet your mother here?

SS: No, actually, my mother is his second wife, because his first wife died of a stroke at quite a young age, I think she was in her late twenties. And my mother is a cousin of that first wife and so on one of his trips back to Japan they arranged this marriage for him with my mother and so they got married in 1915, and actually there's a fourteen-year difference in their age. He was thirty-four and she was only twenty when they got married.

SO: And so she's from Shikoku?

SS: She's also from Yawatahama, Shikoku, right, from the same town. And they had their first child when they were living in Japan and that would be my oldest sister, Takiko. When she was fourteen months old, the story is that my mother put her down for a nap and then she and my dad left to return to America, and then when Takiko woke up from her nap she was walking all over the house crying for her mother. And she left her of course in the care of her sister, so it would be Takiko's aunt, and my mother's sister had been married for quite a few years by then but she was childless. So she left Takiko in her care.

SO: And she lived in Japan?

SS: And she was born and raised in Japan. She never found out until she was in junior high school that she actually had this family in America and that the person she thought was her mother was really her aunt.

SO: When did she finally meet her?

SS: I met her for the first time when Takiko was fifty years old in 1968.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright ©2009 Densho and the Twin Cities JACL. All Rights Reserved.